By JACOB KUBEKA, Lagos
The Nigerian government has debunked reports in the Social Media that Leah Sharibu, the Dapchi school girl abducted by the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists since last year, has died in captivity.
“It’s absolutely fake news. There is nothing like that,” the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, declared at a press briefing in Ilorin, Kwara State, on Sunday
He said the rumour of Miss Sharibu’s death, which surfaced just a few days to the presidential election, is another ploy by the political opposition to tarnish the image of the administration and exploit primordial sentiments ahead of the polls.
“I think it’s part of the opposition’s strategies to throw everything at the administration and at the President. I think everyday they are realizing the hopelessness of their position.
“Everyday they are amazed by the support Mr. President is receiving from every part of the country and they have decided that they are going to spread falsehood, inflame passion and make this election a Muslim-Christian affair or North-South affair, but people are not listening to them,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
The 14-year-old Leah Sharibu was on February 19, 2018, kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists from her school, Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School in Dapchi, Bursari local government area of Yobe state, North-East Nigeria.
She was abducted along with 112 other students, 111 of them girls.
Following a series of negotiations and agreement with the Nigerian government, 107 of the abducted students were driven back by the terrorists in a convoy of vehicles on March 21, 2018. Five of the students were reported to have died in the course of their transportation to an unknown location, while Leas Sharibu was conspicuously missing.
It was from one of the freed girls, Khadija Grema, that Nigeria and the world got to know that the Boko Haram terrorists refused to return Leah Sharibu because she refused to renounce her Christian faith.
According to Khadija, “There’s one of the girls that wasn’t freed because she is a Christian, she was held back.”
Speaking on the Monday’s presidential campaign rally in Ilorin, he said the All Progressives Congress (APC) has put everything in place to ensure that the visit of President Buhari is a huge success.
“The party has been meeting in the last couple of days to ensure that the President’s visit is very successful. We have watched the rallies in many parts of the country and we want to assure Mr. President that our rally in terms of numbers, quality of people, entertainment and colour will rank among the best,” the Minister said.
He said the crowd that will come out to receive the President will be organic as the party does not engage in renting crowds.
Alhaji Mohammed appealed to security agencies to create a level playing field for all the contestants in the election to allow the people to freely exercise their franchise, saying those involved in legitimate activities have nothing to fear.
He also described the protest in some circles over the redeployment of Police Commissioners across the country as the handiwork of the opposition, which is working to discredit the police and the Independent National Electoral Commission.